Autolyzed Yeast Extract = MSG?

Can someone give me some insight into autolyzed yeast extract vs. MSG? Is it the same thing? I’ve done some research on the net, but have not gotten a clear idea. I’m sensitive to MSG and try to avoid it as much as possible. As I read labels, I have come across autolyzed yeast extract in stuff like crackers, soups, and seasoned/salty things lately. Your knowledge will help me be a more informed consumer.

121 Answers

  • Sam Fujisaka Jun 18, 2021

    Sorry, no! Autolyzed yeast is yeast that has been allowed to die and decompose (in the technical sense). MSG and AY contain free glutamic acids and are used similarly, but they are not the same! MSG is not extracted from yeast–but is made from varous starches such as cassava.

    • Ruth Lafler Jun 18, 2021

      The linked item says “Autolyzed yeast extract is also the primary source of monosodium glutamate for the food industry.” Hmmm … I may have read that sentence wrong: perhaps what it means is that autolyzed yeast added to foods is the primary source of MSG in those foods. Other articles point out that the only reason to put yeast extract in food is because the glutimates (the part of MSG that gives it its distinctive characteristics) are flavor enhancers. So while they are technically not the same, for the purposes of someone who is sensitive to MSG, they might as well be.

      • QueenB Jun 19, 2021

        That same person who is sensitive to MSG (the flavoring), should also be sensitive to not only autolyzed yeast extract, but parmesan cheese, tomatoes, peas, corn and a slew of other things that contain glutamates.
        Not only that, but your body also produces a fair amount of glutamate every day, as an amino acid.
        Autolyzed yeast and MSG both provide glutamic acids (as my colleague Sam has stated), but MSG is not processed from autolyzed yeast.

        • mojoeater Jun 19, 2021

          An MSG “Sensitive” person should avoid soy, bean curd and mushrooms, too.

          • naturopath Oct 18, 2021

            Of course all protein-based foods contain natural glutamates. The problem occurs when these protein compounds, whether in yeast or other foods, are hydrolyzed at HIGH TEMPERATURES. When this happens, an UNNATURAL steroisomer (mirror-image) form of glutamate called d-glutamate arises instead of the natural L-glutamate found in nature. It is this unnatural d-form that causes people problems. Since the autolysis of yeast happens at high temperatures it is very likely that autolyzed yeast contains MSG.

            • DAVE A Jul 12, 2021

              Hi, what is a “higher temperature” that does this – same as normal cooking temps. or pastuerization?
              Dave A.

              • jgg13 Jul 12, 2021

                “Since the autolysis of yeast happens at high temperature …”

                Sorry to burst your bubble, but yeast autolysis can happen for all sorts of reason and high temps are only one of them. For instance, your statement fails to account for why one might have excess yeast autolysis when fermenting a lager (which is typically done in the 40F-50F range).

                • DAVE A Jul 12, 2021

                  I was referring to making bakers YE, not beer/brewing, different world!

                  • jgg13 Jul 12, 2021

                    edit: I see, you’re referring to a response you gave me below. That wasn’t clear. deleting this msg.

              • Elliander Oct 27, 2021

                That is actually a misconception. Although it is true that pretty much everything has free Glutamates (for example, since all Yeast has Free Glutamates it is safe to assume all breads and cakes have it as well) it is the dosage that makes the poison.

                For example. What is the difference between Coca Leaf Tea and Cocaine? Cocaine is highly concentrated. The concentrations make it harmful. Not the substance.

                I am also sensitive to Glutamates but I can eat foods that contain normal concentrations of Free Glutamates. I only get into trouble when I get more than a natural portion all at once.

                So I can eat breads, mushrooms, cheese, peas, corn and what have you. Because all of those foods contain only one tenth of a percent as much. I’m sure there are people with extreme sensitivity, but even they should be able to eat some sources of free glutamates without a problem.

                All they have to do is put the concentrations on the labels and I wouldn’t worry anymore about it.

              • ccbweb Jul 19, 2021

                The entire wikipedia article is unsourced, so I’d be hesitant to take what’s there at face value.

                • maria lorraine Jul 20, 2021

                  Here are two good information sources, from the International Food Information Council (IFIC):
                  “Everything You NeedTo Know About Glutamate And Monosodium Glutamate”
                  “Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate: Examining the Myths”

                  • vorpal Jul 20, 2021

                    Here is an alternate viewpoint:


                    • naturopath Oct 18, 2021

                      If you research who the financial stakeholders in the IFIC are, you would find you should be very wary of inbiased information. This article referenced here, while informative and using some truthful information, glosses over the terrible fact that the d-stereoisomer of glutamate has some nasty neurostimulating effects that can be VERY problematic for the human body. Natural l-glutamate does not react this same way. Add MSG to rats feed and they will overfeed, creating type-2 diabetes in those rats. MSG is a much bigger problem than the profit-driven food industry wants to admit because they enjoy the profits that come from people being addicted to their specific food products.

                      • maria lorraine Oct 18, 2021

                        Hi there,

                        Let’s talk about neurostimulation a second.

                        Neurostimulation isn’t a bad thing. It’s how the brain works. It’s how pain is modulated, and how depression is kept at bay.

                        So it’s not at all clear that we’re talking about an improper amount of neurostimulation. Do you have links to scientific articles that prove a damaging amount of neurostimulation caused by either d-glutamate or l-glutamate?

                        I just read several complex articles on d-glutamate chemical pathways and synthesis in the body, and combed through more than 100 articles in the National Library of Medicine database, but I can’t find any evidence that confirms what you say.

                        Happy to read any credible info you’ve got, though. Links to published scientific studes in the last five years are best.

                        Were d-glutamate harmful, medical researchers would be all over it. They have no monetary interest in suppressing information about a substance harmful to humans.

                        Who are the financial stakeholders in IFIC that you feel may bias its information?

                        Thanks — look forward to reading your info,

                        • missy4short Apr 30, 2021

                          I’m not seeing any references to any credible sources in your e-mail either. Are we to just take your word for it as well?

                          I’m all for open discussion, but it seems odd to point the finger at someone and then turn around and do the same thing.

                          • maria lorraine Apr 30, 2021

                            Perhaps you did not read that I give the resource (the National Library of Medicine database) that has the latest scientific information on this subject. It’s simple enough for you to go to the database and avail yourself of the scientific information. I’ve combed through more than 120 scientific peer-reviewed articles, and studied intently several recent articles specific to d-glutamate neurostimulation. No research ever corroborated the claim of excessive neurostimulatory effects. After all, glutamic acid (l-isomer, d-isomer, etc.) is the principal neurotransmitter of the brain. Check out the National Library of Medicine database, and if you like, read the other links I’ve provided, both above and in other threads on this same subject. Happy to read what your scientific research unearths.

                            • bmorecupcake May 3, 2021

                              Could you please recommend just one article in the database that measured neurostimulatory effects? I am not very knowledgeable in the field and would like to educate myself. Thanks.

                              • anthonyj Dec 15, 2021

                                Maria, I do not know how you could of possibly searched any database of peer reviewed journals and not found hundreds of articles on the many detrimental health effects of MSG or glutamate. It has been known for decades. A Pubmed search results in thousands of articles. Glutamate is the most used neurotransmitter in the brain, so there is tons of research on it. Yes, it is necessary and natural, but it’s all about concentrations. It occurs naturally in your body and in natural foods in very small concentrations. The problems occur with the high concentrations of glutamate that occurs when ingesting food additives. Glutamate, like aspartame, is an excitotoxin. Here’s a good review by Dr. Russell Blaylock… complete with references to peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Happy reading!

                                • maria lorraine Dec 15, 2021

                                  Sorry, I have researched this — serious time poring over a large number of scientific articles on orally ingested glutamates from both foods and cooked dishes vs. naturally occurring glutamates creating organically by the body. . Your statements that the quantitites/concentrations of glutamates ingested vs. those created organically by the human body, and used as a major *healthy* metabolic chemical, are not borne out by the quantities measured in the scientific studies. Glutamates are one of the major *healthy* fuels of the brain. When something is excitatory doesn’t mean it’s *overly* excitatory or anything beyond fueling normal healthy brain function. Anything that says otherwise appeasr to be yet another huge food myth that will. not. die.

                        • dougiedd Feb 13, 2021

                          as yes, the IFIC! Such an unbiased source of information. Never mind their ties to the industry.

                          • maria lorraine Feb 13, 2021

                            You’re preaching to the choir. I said the same thing on Nov 26, 2021 07:53 PM, and reiterated that 45 minutes ago. You’re responding to an old post. A few years ago IFIC was a good source of some food info. But no longer. Now they’re a shill for the food industry.

                  • maria lorraine Jun 19, 2021

                    A person ingests each day 11 parts naturally occurring glutamates (in cheese, soy, mushrooms, etc.) compared to one part from MSG or autolyzed yeast, according to the International Food Information Council.

                    • QueenB Jun 20, 2021

                      Which is why I find this whole MSG “sensitivity” fascinating. Especially since naturally occurring glutamates and MSG are processed by the body exactly in the same way. So, anyone having problems with MSG should have problems with a lot of other foods as well.

                      • Ruth Lafler Jun 20, 2021

                        Right. I’ve never heard people who claim to be sensitive to MSG complain about not being able to eat mushrooms or parmesan cheese, both of which are very high in free glutamates.

                        • vorpal Jul 19, 2021

                          I don’t know about mushrooms as I’m not a big fan, but as someone who can’t eat much MSG due to a health condition, I do have trouble with more than small quantities of parmesan cheese.

                          • maria lorraine Jul 20, 2021

                            Do you also have difficulty eating peas?

                            Or chicken, duck, beef, pork, fish, cheese, corn, tomatoes or soy sauce? All have lots and lots of bound and free glutamates, and the body cannot tell the difference between monosodium glutamate (the sodium salt of glutamate) and other glutamates. Please check the IFIC links above for mg of glutamate per 100 g of these foodstuffs.

                            • vorpal Jul 20, 2021

                              All I know is that I have Crohn’s Disease, and if I eat foods containing high levels of added artificial glutamates, I spend about eight hours in crippling abdominal pain probably due to acute, chronic inflammation and a partial intestinal blockage – sometimes helped by Percocet but at other times requiring taxi trips to the emergency room for stronger intravenous opiates – and unable to leave the bathroom for more than about 30 minutes at a time. I believe that this clearly is not psychosomatic since Crohn’s Disease is not… additionally, I don’t know that I consumed MSG until after the fact, when I call the restaurant / question my host / etc. and discover that MSG was used without my knowledge. (I am usually very careful to avoid it, for obvious reasons.)

                              Note: I can eat virtually everything on your aforementioned list without problems, as far as I know. Why there is a differentiation in my physiological reaction between naturally occurring and artificial glutamates, I don’t know; perhaps it’s to other non-glutamate components of hydrolyzed proteins or autolyzed yeast that remain after manufacturing? An inability to properly metabolize free glutamates due to a vitamin B6 deficiency? I’m just guessing, and have no clue.

                              This apparently is not an uncommon reaction for people with Crohn’s Disease. We Crohn’s sufferers tend to react strangely to lots of foods, additives, etc. that don’t affect healthy people.

                              • dway11 Dec 16, 2021

                                My husband has Crohn’s too. He for sure can’t have mushrooms. He once tried to just brush them off of a sandwitch and he still got sick. I don’t know if it’s only when they’re cooked??? but ya he’s tried a few times to eat them and got sick. He also switched to Ramano Cheese instead of Parmason Cheese. Tomato Sauce didn’t seem to bother… don’t know why. Type in a google search for a list of hidden names for MSG and these will pop up.

                          • jgg13 Oct 1, 2021

                            I’ve seen it, but it’s rare. Usually the people just whine about chinese food and junk food products, w/o realizing that by and large they’re consuming this stuff all over the place.

                          • withlovealana Nov 13, 2021

                            That’s because MSG is man made and the ones naturally occurring are natural foods, not processed with chemicals, additives and preservatives.

                            • Innertech Feb 8, 2021

                              Yes, the natural sources do not cause a reaction.

                              • jgg13 Feb 14, 2021

                                Actually MSG is usually made by bacterial fermentation which doesn’t sound like “chemicals, additives and preservatives” to me.

                            • a_and_w Jul 20, 2021

                              As my friend’s father explained one day when we found a huge drum of MSG in the back of their Chinese restaurant: “You know, boys, MSG is everywhere…”

                            • jefair Oct 1, 2021

                              I don’t know anything about food chemistry, but I do know that MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast and soy sauce act somewhat the same in my system. Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms do nothing that I am aware of.

                              I went through years of pain and keeping close to a bathroom from the time I was a child to my mid twenties before I read an article in the Toronto Star about “Chinese food tummy syndrome” and what caused it. I had finally found out what my mother’s roast beef (with Bisto in the gravy) had in common with flavoured potato chips (particularly sour cream and onion), powdered soups and artificial bacon bits in salads.

                              Now I find that if I have avoided MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and autolyzed yeast in the food I eat, if I indulge in something I shouldn’t most of the time the symptoms will be very mild, but if I have been pushing the envelope and nibbling away here and there it takes very little to put me back in the bathroom.

                              • dway11 Dec 16, 2021

                                Do a test with Mushrooms…. They do bother my husband.

                                • dennyd3 Aug 20, 2021

                                  My wife of 46 years has always been “allergic” to MSG. Hives, the runs, extreme flushing, etc. I realize, as I’m a chemist, that she is not allergic, but suffers from SOME reaction to MSG and all of it’s clean label names. When we stay away from those foods, she’s fine. NO REACTION to parm., mushrooms or the various other foods that are high in NATURAL glutemate. NO ONE can convince me that she does not get a very bad reaction ONLY when she eats these foods. Yep, not psychosymatic as we have been in fine restaurants and neighbors back yards, yet when 20 minutes has passed, there’s the signs!! We had NO IDEA that any of the foods had any MSG (or the like) in them. We’d call back and ask VERY specific questions and then get the “Oh yeah, it does say that it contains autolyzed….”

                                  • Innertech Feb 8, 2021

                                    Thank you for this reply as it shines light on my own situation. I think there are people here trying to increase MSG sales and stop everyone who’s hurt from being heard.

                                    • dougiedd Feb 12, 2021

                                      indeed it would appear the msg manufacturers are worried about these troublesome ideas about the product getting any reception.

                                      • sandylc Feb 12, 2021

                                        Just like processed food makers, in general….and pharmaceutical companies, etc.

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